Researcher says solar storm could shut down the internet for months in 2024 – Science

Researcher says solar storm could shut down the internet for months in 2024 – Science
Researcher says solar storm could shut down the internet for months in 2024 – Science

One solar storm could cause an Internet “apocalypse” next year. Published by Insider Paper This Wednesday (13), the forecast is from the professor Peter Becker, from George Mason University, in the United States. He is responsible for developing warning systems about solar activities that could harm global technology.

“The Internet came of age at a time when the Sun was relatively calm, and now it is entering a more active time,” said the researcher. According to him, this is the first time in history that there is a convergence between the increase in solar activity and human dependence on the Internet.

The latest update from NOAA’s Space Weather Prediction Center indicates that Solar Cycle 25 — which predicts a solar superstorm — is expected to peak earlier than initially predicted. Projections pointed to a peak in July 2025, but now it is believed that the most intense phase could occur as early as next year.

What is a solar storm?

Solar storms happen when a large bubble of superheated gas, known as plasma, is ejected by the surface of the sun and reaches the Earth. This phenomenon is called coronal mass ejection.

Upon reaching Earth, this “plasma cloud”, composed of electrically charged particles — protons and electrons — interacts with the magnetic field that surrounds our planet. This interaction weakens and deforms the Earth’s magnetic fieldincreasing the chances of natural phenomena happening.

As a result of these interactions, solar or geomagnetic storms can trigger large amounts of cosmic rays in the atmospherewhich in turn produce carbon-14, a radioactive isotope of carbon.

What can a solar superstorm cause?

According to Becker, solar flares can affect the electrical grid, satellites, underground fiber optic cables with copper sheathing, navigation and GPS systems, radio transmitters and communications equipment.

“Everyone thinks, ‘My computer is grounded, I’m fine.’ But in an event like this, if you direct inductive currents to the surface of the Earth, it can almost work in reverse, and you can end up actually frying things that you thought were relatively safe.”

The researcher also said that every minute will be important to guarantee the maintenance of the systems. “If we have a warning, every minute counts, because it is possible to put the satellites in safe mode. You can turn off the transformers from the grid, so they don’t fry,” he explained.

The article is in Portuguese

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